In an effort to raise awareness about the issue of elder abuse the World Health Organization and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse designated June 15 as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day nearly 10 years ago in 2006.

This began a national initiative as well, when President Obama made a proclamation recently on June 15 noting that Americans joined this worldwide effort to take a stand against elder abuse in the U.S. In his proclamation, the President noted that the issue of elder abuse is underreported and under-identified, but is without doubt a public health issue.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services division on the Administration of Community Living estimates that nearly five million elders are abused on an annual basis. However, only about one in five, or 20 percent, of those abuses against elders are ever discovered.

Although many people and their families may think that it cannot happen to them or that it won’t happen to their family member, it is very important to keep in mind and understand that elder abuse can affect any individual regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, upbringing and socioeconomic status. Elder abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, or it can be neglect at the hands of caretakers and caregivers. Elder abuse can also be in the form of financial exploitation.

If someone suspects that their family member is suffering from elder abuse or recognizes signs of elder abuse, there may be legal options.

Source: The White House, “Presidential Proclamation – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2015, ” June 12, 2015